The present days Vannars in Kochi trace their roots back to Coimbatore and Thirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. 

Vannar is a Hindu caste referring the community of washer men. 

They are believed to have migrated into Kochi during the colonial times. It is believed that the King brought the Vannars to fulfil the demand for laundry services that existed during the colonial times. 

The present days Vannars in Kochi trace their roots back to Coimbatore and Thirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu. 

Until the 1970's they carried out their business in the open, in an area that had numerous ponds in Fort Kochi. Since then, they have shifted their operations to Dhobi Khana built by the Greater Kochi Development Authority.

Dhobi Street that they inhibit currently, boasts of four temples all bearing names and the architecture is strikingly Tamil. Even though their ancestors were from Tamil Nadu they are a highly indigenized community. But having said that they do uphold their cultural identity through festival such as ‘Mulakoottu’. 

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION BY BIJU IBRAHIM: COMMUNITIES OF KOCHI

Places have souls and Mattancherry in the city of Kochi has a mystic one. Biju Ibrahim discovered this while documenting the lives of Kochi’s 38 communities through black and white pictures. Distinct in layers of identities – caste, faith, language, ethnicity and region – these communities have been welcomed over centuries and have, in turn, infused Mattancherry and Kochi with a rare and rich heritage. Historically, it has been home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. The sea and port attracted sailors, traders from Arabia and Gujarat, preachers of Semitic faiths, colonisers such as the Dutch and Portuguese, political refugees and migrant labourers. A cross-section of India lives here in a radius of 5 kilometers. 

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AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER

BIJU IBRAHIM

He captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic & mystery of spaces & places, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.

ART ORGANISATION

URU ART HARBOUR

URU art harbour is a cultural hub situated at Kochi. URU seeks to be a space for collaboration and a continual hub for artistic, cultural, and intellectual exploration. Founded by Riyas Komu and Zoya Riyas.

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